Divekick Addition Edition Plus Review

Sometimes it is the simple things that make gaming so enjoyable, especially as technology advances giving us more and more options while we pour our time into a favorite game. With every new release control schemes change, become more complex, and require more than a few days to completely master. Last year Iron Galaxy Studios released Divekick, which boasted a minimalist approach to a 2D fighting game utilizing just two buttons to control your fighter. Reviews were above average for the developer who went on to flesh out the reincarnation of Killer Instinct on the Xbox One. Now Iron Galaxy Studios has re-released an updated version ‘Divekick Addition Edition Plus’ as part of the ID@Xbox program which allows any developer to publish their “indie” game.

You may be thinking “There is NO WAY a two button fighting game can work,” and after initially starting the game I was saying it out loud. How in the world are you supposed to move around without using an analog stick and how can I unleash my special moves without a special button and analog combo? Even in my cynical state of mind I loaded up the game and chose which two buttons I’d use to dive (which basically means jump) and kick. Half way through my first match I couldn’t believe how surprisingly versatile those two buttons were allowing my character to move back and forth across the screen offensively trying to attack my opponent and dodge incoming kicks, accept most of it was learned by trial and error. Until you master a fighter your duel to the death feels more like a game of chance as you think you’re going to swoop in for a divekick headshot only to find yourself reeling backwards across the screen.

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Another unique feature of Divekick is that every round feels like sudden death because all it takes is one hit to win. In order to win the match you must win 5 rounds making each round feel like a make it or break it moment to keep the player on edge. Whether you’re facing off against the computer or an opponent online or locally, you’ll find that Divekick makes the most of fakes, special moves, and catching your adversary off guard. Tapping the kick button while standing allows your character to move away from your challenger, but if you dive into the air and tap kick you’re sent into an attack vectoring towards them at an angle. Each of the 14 characters has 2 special moves that can be activated by hitting both buttons together while standing on the ground or in mid-air. These moves consume energy from your Kickfactor meter which is displayed as a shoe on screen, however if you allow your meter to fill up you’ll enter Kickfactor mode that enables your character to move faster and change the slant of your divekicks.

The roster of Divekick is average at best made up from fighting game rejects, parodies of other fighters, and fighting game community managers. Some of the characters like Kung Pao and Dr. Victoria Shoals are hilarious if you understand who they are trying to spoof. The problem is that unless you have been into fighting games for sometime the satire they are trying to deliver is easily missed and caters to only those devoted to the genre. Each of the 14 fighters has their own storyline that are both interesting and humorous, making it to fighting games what the Scary Movie series is to the horror genre. After choosing a fighter you’re prompted to select one of three different gems that give your fighter a boost to attributes or changes match perimeters. One gem allows your fighter to increase kick speed and the angle of them, another gives increased height and haste to your dive, and finally there is the “YOLO” gem for those cocky enough to put themselves in a sudden death situation where one wrong move is the end of the match.

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Visually Iron Galaxy Studios stuck with the same minimalistic approach they used with the control scheme. Character and environment design won’t give you an eyegasm, but they do transport you back in time when people would line quarters up on arcade cabinets to play the winner next. Honestly I love the aesthetic vibe of the game more than the actual gameplay. The background music, loading screens, and cheesy voice acting fit perfectly with what they were trying to accomplish and actually pulled me into the story and fights more than they should have. Without the audio and visual aspects of Divekick it would be below average at best.

There isn’t a plethora of game modes, but running through the stories of all the fighters will take some time and skill. The meat of Divekick lies in the competitive Versus mode. If you are lucky enough to have a group of friends who are into the game finding a match is simple, but if you think you’ll just randomly pop into a match be prepared to spend a LONG time waiting for an opponent to finally cue up for a fight. Herein lays a major problem with the game, especially for all those achievement whores out there. What good is it to have a fighting game when there is nobody around to challenge? Sure the niche crowd is small, but why blow money on a game if the only reason you bought it was to pit your skill at deception and precision strikes against others? None! Add on that most of the achievements revolve around competitive modes (both locally and online ranked) and Divekick flops more than it holds its own.

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Without a doubt Divekick is a very distinct fighting game that uses humor and the true essence of the genre to deliver an experience like no other. Once you take control of your fighters’ moves the real test begins as you battle your way through the masses to the end boss or test your grit against those you’re lucky enough to find online. The nostalgic visuals and sound add a depth to the game that allow old school fighting fans to flashback to the glory days and gives those without that familiarity a taste of how it all started. Sadly the lack of online community really hurts what would have been an amazing experience and achievements like “Win 2,000 Ranked Matches” are a slap in the face to what could have been.

 

Score 5.5/10 – Review by Jake Lyons

Review code supplied by Team Xbox UK.

Written by: Rob Cram

Rob Cram has hundreds of video game reviews, thousands of articles under his belt with years of experience in gaming and tech. He aims to remain fair and free from publisher/developer influence. With his extensive knowledge, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement with his views are entirely optional. He might have a bias towards cyberpunk.

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